Hillary Clinton fired her coaches and swapped out her trainers. But she's fumbled again. She's punted through 10 states in a row. And now, with just minutes to go on the clock, she finds herself pushed back to her own five-yard line. And a hard-charging Obama, fired up and ready to go, has got a tight grip on the ball.
Hillary's got one and only one game plan left. As conservative pundit Tony Blankley recently put it, her only hope is to “win it in the fifth quarter.” In short, there no longer remains any foreseeable way for Clinton to clinch a lead in the delegate count unless she wins Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania next month with a 65 percent majority.
That is virtually impossible, which means that only an undemocratic push by the appointed superdelegates can get the Clintons over the line. Or, worse, the party would have to flagrantly violate its own rules by seating the delegates from the disqualified and Soviet-like primaries in Michigan and Florida. There's simply no other way.
Clinton's double-digit loss in Wisconsin on Tuesday was simply devastating. Obama steamrolled right over her — winning handily among white voters, white men, younger voters and voters who decided at the last minute. He cut right into Clinton's base by winning more women's votes and tied her among union members.
Obama topped Clinton by a staggering 31 points among independents, a figure that is sure to catch the eye of many a wavering superdelegate. Same with the exit polls showing that voters in the primary thought Obama, by a whopping 63-to-37 percent, would be more electable than Clinton against John McCain.
Hillary has no one other than herself, her husband and her unctuous guru — Mark Penn — to blame for her now almost certain demise. When her political obituary is written (now much sooner than later), the official cause of death will be listed as unbridled arrogance.
She lost the last 10 states because she never had a plan to contest them. Her self-infatuated campaign, convinced of its entitlement, of its own inevitability, never as much looked at the calendar beyond Tsunami Tuesday of February 5.
That same hubris, rather stupefyingly, seemed undented even by her current hemorrhaging of support. Though Obama has won twice as many states, stacked up a lead in pledged delegates and now tops her in the popular vote by a million or so, Clinton has yet to make one public concession speech. It's a suicidal snub — not just to campaign etiquette, but also to the collective intellect of the voters.
One of the most satisfying moments, then, of this entire campaign season flashed on screen shortly after the polls closed Tuesday night and Obama was projected the winner in Wisconsin. Clinton, speaking from Ohio, went first onto national television but made no acknowledgement of Obama's 17-point victory. She displayed no graciousness; she made no concession. Obama, by now camped out in Texas, let a few minutes go by and then, in a wonderfully rude move, mounted his own victory podium and forced the cable networks to cut to his boisterous celebration. He had had enough and Clinton was brusquely pushed aside.
But not only by Obama. Among those Wisconsin voters who cast ballots earlier in the day, 54 percent said that Clinton had been engaging in unfair attacks. Indeed, the eventual autopsy on the Clinton campaign will declare her negativity to have been at least a contributing factor to her collapse.
It seems perfectly natural to be skeptical, even dubious, about any politician's claim to be the retainer of “hope we can believe in” — even when it comes from a candidate as inspiring and charismatic as Barack Obama. Voters with a modicum of sanity should be prepared to be disappointed by virtually anyone who is elected president within the narrow confines of our current politics.
It's quite another thing, however, to tell the voters not to believe, not to be swayed by soaring rhetoric, not to even dare to envision any sweeping change. And that has been, in essence, Hillary's message: be too afraid to as much as even dream.
We're told in the wake of the Wisconsin defeat that the only positive spin Clinton's campaign can come up with, in its insider evaluation, is that her tougher-edged tone this past week allowed her to lose by less than when she took a less combative posture in the previous week's Potomac primaries.
Expect Clinton then to go very dark in the next two weeks leading into Ohio and Texas. But it now seems abundantly clear that the more Clinton insists on repeating “No, you can't,” the more likely she will be met with a chorus of “Yes, we can.”